Wukchumni language

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Native speakers
1 [1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Wukchumni is a dialect of Tule-Kaweah Yokuts that was historically spoken by the Wukchumni people of the east fork of the Kaweah River of California.

Marie Wilcox in 2016

Marie Wilcox, born 1933, is currently the only remaining native speaker of the language.[3][4]


The following tables are based on Gamble (1978).[5]


Bilabial Dental/
Velar Glottal
Plosive voiceless p t ʈ k ʔ
aspirated ʈʰ
ejective ʈʼ
Affricate voiceless t͡ʃ
aspirated t͡ʃʰ
ejective t͡ʃʼ
Fricative s ʃ x h
Nasal plain m n ŋ
glottalized ŋˀ
Approximant plain w l j

Allophones of /ʃ, x/ include [ʒ̊, xʷ].


Front Central Back
Close i iː ɨ ɨː u uː
Mid e eː ə əː o oː
Open a aː

A long vowel /eː/ can be lowered to [æː] when occurring before an /n/.

All phonetic short vowel allophones include [ɪ], [ɛ], [ɨ̞], [ɜ], [ʌ], [o̞], [ʊ].


Wukchumni is categorized as 8a or "moribund" on the Expanded Graded Intergenerational Disruption Scale.[6][7]

Revitalization efforts[edit]

In the early 2000s Marie Wilcox, aided by her daughter, Jennifer Malone began compiling a Wukchumni dictionary.

Wilcox and Malone currently hold classes teaching beginner and intermediate Wukchumni to interested tribal members.[8][9]

Efforts to revive Wukchumni have additionally been organized through the Master-Apprentice Language Learning Program.[7]

Possibility of more native speakers[edit]

Destiny Treglown, Marie Wilcox's great-granddaughter is raising her son, Oliver, as a Wukchumni speaker. If Oliver reaches fluency, he will become the only other native speaker of the language and the first in four generations.[10][11]


  1. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jl1O1Fmb2uE
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Wukchumni". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Society, National Geographic (2017-06-23). "Recording a Dying Language". National Geographic Society. Retrieved 2019-08-29.
  4. ^ Gilpin, Caroline Crosson (2018-03-22). "Teaching With: 'Who Speaks Wukchumni?'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-08-29.
  5. ^ Gamble, Geoffrey (1978). Wikchamni Grammar. Berkeley: Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.: University of California Publications in Linguistics, 89.
  6. ^ "Language Status". Ethnologue. Retrieved 2019-09-01.
  7. ^ a b Riley, Elise A. (2016). "Language Revitalization Practices in Indigenous Communities of the U.S." Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ "Tulare County Nüümü Yadoha Program". Owens Valley Career Development Center.
  9. ^ "Keeping Native American languages alive: In "Marie's Dictionary," Wukchumni lives on". Salon. 2018-04-20. Retrieved 2019-08-29.
  10. ^ "Language Keepers". Emergence Magazine. Retrieved 2019-08-29.
  11. ^ Wukchumni: Four Generations, retrieved 2019-08-30

External links[edit]